Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 25, 2014

Where things stand on completing Michigan's budget

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Doubling fuel taxes. Shoring up bankrupt Detroit's pensions funds. Raising the minimum wage.

Michigan lawmakers are tackling hefty issues in the last weeks before they break for the summer. So it's easy to forget they're also trying to finalize Gov. Rick Snyder's $52 billion spending plan — the conclusion of which is related to the bankruptcy and transportation legislation.

A look at some key issues that the Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature have to resolve before he can sign the 2014-15 state budget in June:

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ROADS AND BRIDGES

A push to spend much more on road and bridge construction, possibly by at least doubling fuel taxes, wasn't included in Snyder's proposal. But he supports raising at least $1.3 billion a year more — his past call to hike gasoline and license plate taxes hit resistance — and whatever legislators do will affect the budget.

The House plan would set aside $500 million a year more by 2018. Most would come from ensuring that sales tax collected at the pump that the state constitution doesn't require for schools and local governments goes to the transportation budget, which also would get a portion of use taxes collected on out-of-state purchases and by hotels.

The bolder but more politically challenging Senate plan — which hasn't cleared the chamber — could raise $1.5 billion more within four years, mainly by gradually more than doubling the state's gasoline and diesel taxes.

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TESTS

A plan to replace the Michigan Educational Assessment Program next school year with tests aligned with new national education standards has led to considerable pushback. Legislators don't want to fund the exams developed by the Smarter Balanced consortium, a group of states — including Michigan — adopting Common Core standards that spell out what math and English skills students should have at each grade.

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